Walking Stick Poem by Bill Galvin

Walking Stick

I walk a piece of wooded land in Maine,
And spy a clump of maple saplings
Growing from a still-live stump.
I've always held in high approbation
Those of this world who refuse to cave, as long as they can;
Who refuse to die; who have the will to keep on going.
One, straight-as-an-arrow, will be mine, I say.
This one, I will accept as an offering of the Earth;
This one, out of about twenty in the group.
I take it home, and prune, peel, and plane it…
And I leave it to dry in the open air;
Its character of knobs and knots remaining,
So as to show, for all time, a patina of Naturalness.
No oil. No varnish. No sealant. It dries naturally, unretouched.
Now with me twenty-five years…
It has developed a little bow; it's a little bent,
As comes with age in any form, I suppose.
It will outlast me, as I approach seventy.
It's been everywhere of earthly import with me.
It has developed a vertical crack at the bottom couple inches,
Where it hits the ground alternately… clop-clop-click…
At every other step I take, when I'm in good cadence.
This crack does not affect its structural integrity…
Being of the maple gene, it's rock hard and strong;
The grounding-tip wears ever-so-slowly and patiently.
It's walked all the High Places with me…
Whether beach or bog, park or prairie, peak or canyon.
We've been to Alaska, the Rockies - American and Canadian,
Lovely Lake Louise; the Maritimes; the Appalachians;
All over New England, where I'm from; Grand Canyon; Redwoods; Zion; Yellowstone; Glacier… you get the picture.

And, that crack, to me, is holding the grains of time;
As the stick has been placed onto the soils and sands
Of eons of eroded and abraded Earth.
As we humans hold photographs for memory's sake,
Whether on paper, on-line, or in our minds…
This stick holds, forensically, the evidence of its many travels.

I did not name it. I do not talk to, or with it,
As I do with other characters, in my life or not, while a-walking.
Now with me a quarter century… it's been a good listener…
My companion; travel assistant; fellow journeyman;
My three-point-stance when the going gets rough.
I, in good humor and spirits… I ask my friends who read this…
Place my walking stick in the box with me when I go.

2-8-2016 (Poughkeepsie, NY)

Monday, February 8, 2016
Topic(s) of this poem: gratitude
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